Awaara , also written Awāra and known overseas as The Vagabond,[2][3][4] is a 1951 Indian crime drama film, produced and directed by Raj Kapoor, and written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. It stars Raj Kapoor, Nargis, Prithviraj Kapoor (real-life father of Raj Kapoor), Leela Chitnis, and K. N. Singh. Other members of the Kapoor family make an appearance, including Raj's youngest real-life brother Shashi Kapoor, who plays the younger version of his character, and Prithiviraj's father Dewan Bashwanath Kapoor, playing a cameo role in his only film appearance. The film's music was composed by Shankar Jaikishan.

Directed byRaj Kapoor
Produced byRaj Kapoor
Written byKhwaja Ahmad Abbas
Screenplay byKhwaja Ahmad Abbas
Story byKhwaja Ahmad Abbas
V.P. Sathe
StarringRaj Kapoor
Prithviraj Kapoor
Leela Chitnis
K. N. Singh
Shashi Kapoor
Music byShankar-Jaikishan
CinematographyRadhu Karmakar
Edited byG.G. Mayekar
All India Film Corporation,
R.K. Films
Distributed byR.K. Films
Release date
14 December 1951
Running time
193 minutes
Box officeest. ₹15.61 crore
[est. 1,798.27 crore (US$260 million) in 2019]

The film centers on the intertwining lives of poor Raj (Kapoor) and privileged Rita (Nargis). In the film, Kapoor's poor, innocent "little tramp" character references Charlie Chaplin and was further developed in other Kapoor films such as Shree 420. Awaara is considered a milestone in the history of Bollywood.

The film became an overnight sensation in South Asia, and found even greater success abroad in the Soviet Union, East Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.[5][6] In particular, the song "Awaara Hoon" ("I am a Vagabond"), sung by Mukesh with lyrics by Shailendra, became hugely popular across the Indian subcontinent, as well as in countries such as the Soviet Union,[7] China,[2][8] Bulgaria,[6] Turkey, Afghanistan, and Romania. The film was also nominated for the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953.[9] The film drew an estimated overseas audience of 200 million, including 100 million in China and 100 million in the Soviet Union.[10][11] Owing to its popularity in so many countries, the film is a candidate for the most successful film of all time.[6] In 2012, Awaara was included in the 20 new entries to All-Time 100 greatest films by TIME.


Judge Raghunath is a wealthy district judge who convicts Jagga, a man whose father was a criminal, of rape, on little evidence. The judge believes that "good people are born to good people, and criminals are born to criminals." Jagga later escapes and kidnaps the judge's wife Leela for revenge. When he finds out that she has just become pregnant, he releases her after four days and plans a different kind of revenge. Leela's reputation is smeared by suspicions that she was unfaithful to her husband and the judge throws her out of the house, rejecting her pleas that the child is his.

She has a son, Raj, and they live in poverty as a result of being estranged from the father. As a child, Raj befriends Rita in school, but he is removed from the school rolls while trying to maintain a job as shoe shine, and Rita moves to another city. One day, Raj meets Jagga, who convinces him to adopt a life of petty crime in order to save his starving mother. Raj grows up into a talented criminal, going in and out of short stays in jail, and working for Jagga's gang, while his mother is under the impression that he is an honest businessman. Raj never forgets Rita, keeping her birthday picture in his home, though he worries that she would dislike him if she knew what kind of man he has grown into.

While planning a bank robbery with his friends, Raj realises they need an automobile. He snatches a woman's purse when she steps out of the car, but finds no keys, and pretends to pursue the thief to release suspicion from himself. After his elaborate act, he returns the purse to the woman, who is charmed by his personality and apparent selflessness. Later, when Raj successfully steals a car, he hides from the police in a mansion where he meets the same woman from before. Seeing the same birthday picture, Raj realises that she is his school friend Rita. Rita tries to ask Raj how things have gone since schooldays, but he jokingly hints that he is a thief, and she decides not to ask further. Rita is now a ward of the Judge, who suspects that the new man in her life is no good. As Raj and Rita fall in love, he starts wanting to turn away from crime and worries that Rita will not accept him due to his lifestyle. Rita still tells him that she doesn't care about his past, as she loves him no matter where he comes from.

Raj tries to quit his life of crime to work at a factory, but his employers fire him when they find out that he was a thief. Rita invites him to her birthday party, to the disapproval of the Judge, who believes that the impoverished Raj must come from a bad family. Remembering the humiliation he felt as a child when he could not afford a gift for Rita's birthday, Raj goes back to Jagga for a money loan. Jagga mocks his attempts to reform and asks him to commit more crimes. Raj refuses but ends up stealing a necklace from a man on the street, not knowing the man was the Judge. At Rita's birthday, when Raj gives her a necklace without a case and the Judge gives her a case without a necklace (he did not realise it had been stolen until then), she discovers that Raj is indeed a thief. Rita goes to Raj's mother and learns his whole life story. She decides that Raj is not bad, but was forced into committing crimes by bad influence and the desperation of living in poverty. Raj is ashamed, still believing he is no good for her, but she forgives him.

Raj goes to the Judge to ask if he can marry Rita, but the Judge is still stubborn and turns him away. Meanwhile, Jagga and the gang commit the bank robbery, but it goes wrong and they have to run from the police. Jagga hides in Raj's house, where Leela recognizes him and he attacks her. Raj enters and fights him off, killing Jagga in self-defense. Raj goes on trial for Jagga's death, where Judge Raghunath is deciding the verdict. Rita persuades him that Raj acted in self-defense and is innocent. When Leela comes to the courthouse, she sees Raghunath and chases after him but is struck by a car. Rita collects the testimony from Leela in the hospital, and later Raj is allowed to visit her. Leela tells Raj that the Judge is his father and asks her son to forgive him. But Raj becomes angrier at the Judge for making him and his mother suffer. He escapes from jail and tries to kill the Judge for revenge, but is stopped by Rita. Due to these actions, Raj is brought to another court and is defended by Rita, who reveals the full truth to court. Raj chooses not to defend his actions and says that he is a bad man. He asks the court not to think of him, but the millions of other children who grow up in poverty and end up turning to crime because high society does not care about them. While he awaits his execution, Raj is visited by Judge Raghunath, who finally accepts that Raj is his son and tearfully asks for forgiveness. In the end, Raj is spared execution but sentenced to 3 years in prison for his crime. He promises that after getting released, he will reform himself for Rita, who promises to wait for him.



The music for this film was composed by Shankar Jaikishan while the songs were written by Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. The soundtrack was listed by Planet Bollywood as number 3 on their list of 100 Greatest Bollywood Soundtracks. The song Awaara Hoon was used in the Malayalam Film Vishnulokam directed by Kamal starring Mohanlal.[12] Awaara was the best-selling Bollywood soundtrack album of the 1950s.[13]

1 "Ek Do Teen" Shamshad Begum Shailendra
2 "Awaara Hoon" Mukesh
3 "Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi" Lata Mangeshkar
4 "Dam Bhar Jo Udhar Munh Phere" Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar
5 "Tere Bina Aag Yeh Chandni" Manna Dey, Lata Mangeshkar
6 "Naiya Meri Manjhdhar" Mohammed Rafi
7 "Hum Tujhse Mohabbat Kar Ke" Mukesh Hasrat Jaipuri
8 "Ek Bewafa Se Pyar Kiya" Lata Mangeshkar
9 "Ab Raat Guzarne Wali Hai"
10 "Jab Se Balam Ghar Aaye"


The film is a collaboration of the famous team of director/producer Raj Kapoor and writer Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. K. A. Abbas originally wanted Mehboob Khan to direct the film, but the two disagreed over the casting. Khan wanted Ashok Kumar to play the judge and Dilip Kumar the son. In the event, Abbas withdrew his script from Mehboob Studios and Raj Kapoor decided to direct it.[14]

The scene with the song "Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi" is considered the first dream sequence in Indian cinema, with its sea of twirling clouds symbolising the conflicts in the lead character's mind.[15]

In his column for the Indian Express, Kapoor wrote, "In Awara I tried to prove that Vagabonds are not born, but are created in the slums of our modern cities, in the midst of dire poverty and evil environment."[16]


It was entered in the 1953 Cannes Film Festival,[17] where it was nominated for the Grand Prize of the Festival (Palme d'Or).[9]

In 2003, Time magazine included it in a list of "10 Indian Films to Treasure".[18] Time magazine also chose Raj Kapoor's performance in Awaara as one of the top ten greatest performances of all time.[19] In 2005, Indiatimes Movies ranked the movie amongst the "Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films", writing: "Whenever Raj Kapoor and Nargis came together on screen, sparks flew. Their chemistry was electrifying and it crackles with raw passion in Raj Kapoor's Awaara. Nargis's wild and carefree sensuality pulsates and Raj Kapoor's scruffy hair-rebellious persona only adds fuel to the fire".[20] TIME magazine included the film among the 20 new entries added to All-Time 100 greatest films in 2012.[21][22][23]

Box office

Worldwide gross (est.)
Territory Gross revenue Adjusted gross Footfalls
India 2.3 crore[24] ($4.83 million)[n 1] $47 million (302 crore)[26] 17 million[27]
Soviet Union 37.75 million руб $16.97 million (₹8.08 crore) $139 million (₹912 crore) 100 million[11]
Initial run 29 million руб[28] $7.25 million[n 2] (3.45 crore)[n 1] $68 million (437 crore)[26] 65 million[11]
Re-runs 8.75 million руб[n 3] $9.72 million[n 4] (₹4.63 crore)[31] $75 million (₹475 crore) 35 million[11]
China CN¥14.8 million $8.86 million (₹7.22 crore) $38 million (₹248 crore) 100 million[10]
Initial release CN¥2.8 million[32] $1.14 million (₹54 lakh)[33] $11 million (₹72 crore) 40 million[32]
Re-release CN¥12 million[10][34] $7.72 million (₹6.27 crore)[33] $27 million (₹176 crore) 60 million[10][32]
Worldwide ₹15.61 crore ($30.66 million) ₹1,462 crore ($222 million) 217 million

In India, the film grossed a record of 2.3 crore in 1951,[24] making it the highest-grossing film in India up until that time.[35] This record was later beaten the next year by Mehboob Khan's Aan (1952), starring Dilip Kumar, which grossed 2.8 crore in 1952.[36]

In the Soviet Union, Awaara was released in 1954,[37] drawing about a million viewers in four days.[38] By the end of the year, it drew an audience of about 64 million viewers in its initial run, the highest for any film in the Soviet Union at the time, until its record was surpassed by Amphibian Man in 1962.[4] At the Soviet box office, Awaara remained the most-viewed Indian film, the third biggest foreign hit of all time,[39][40] and one of the top 20 biggest hits of all time.[4][39][41] In terms of gross revenue, Awaara earned 29 million Soviet rubles[28] ($7.25 million,[n 2] 3.45 crore)[n 1] in its initial run, surpassing Aan to become the highest-grossing Indian film overseas at the time. Awaara's 29 million Soviet ruble was eventually surpassed by Disco Dancer (1982),[7][42] which grossed 60 million rubles in the Soviet Union.[42] Including re-runs, which were running for 10–12 years, Awaara's footfalls in the Soviet Union amounted to about 100 million box office admissions, which remains the highest for an Indian film in an overseas market.[11]

The film was also a success in China, where it first released in 1955. In its first week, the film drew 4 million box office admissions, including 1.43 million admissions grossing CN¥100,000 in Beijing alone. By 1978, the film had drew 40 million admissions in China.[32] The film's re-release in 1979 was also a commercial success.[43] Following its re-release, the film went on to draw a total of over 100 million admissions,[10] and was the second highest-grossing Indian film in China behind only Nasir Hussain's Caravan (1971).[32] The song "Awaara Hoon" and actor Raj Kapoor were widely known across China, much like in the Soviet Union. The film's success in both the Soviet Union and China has been attributed to the socialist themes expressed in the film.[2][8] The film Awaara and the song "Awaara Hoon" are believed to have been among Chairman Mao's favourite films and songs, respectively.[8][19] In more recent years, Awaara was referenced in the 2000 Chinese film Platform.[44]


Due to the film's remarkable success with Turkish audiences, Awaara was remade in Turkey as Avare (1964) starring the Turkish actor Sadri Alışık, along with actress Ajda Pekkan.[45]

See also


  1. 4.7619 Indian rupees per US dollar from 1950 to 1965[25]
  2. 4 Soviet rubles per US dollar from 1950 to 1960[29]
  3. 35 million re-run admissions up until 1964-1966,[11] average Soviet ticket price of 25 kopecks in the mid-1960s[30]
  4. 0.9 SUR per US$ from 1961 to 1971[29]


  1. Virdi, Jyotika (2003). The Cinematic ImagiNation [sic]: Indian Popular Films as Social History. Rutgers University Press. p. 20. ISBN 9780813531915.
  2. Linda Badley; R. Barton Palmer; Steven Jay Schneider, Traditions in world cinema, Rutgers University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8135-3874-7, ... To this day 'Awaara hoon' ('I'ma vagabond'), the title song of Raj Kapoor's Awaara ('The Vagabond', 1951) remains well known throughout Russia, which the director- star visited, and China, where both the song and film were said to be Chairman Mao's favourites ...
  3. East and West in India's Development, page 43, MIT Center for International Studies, 1959
  4. Moscow Prime Time: How the Soviet Union Built the Media Empire that Lost the Cultural Cold War, page 44, Cornell University Press, 2011
  5. Sangita Gopal; Sujata Moorti (2008). Global Bollywood travels of Hindi song and dance ([Online-Ausg.] ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. p. 16. ISBN 0-8166-4579-5. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  6. "Awaara 'most successful' film of all times". Gulf News. 1 October 2006. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  7. "Bollywood re-enters Russian homes via cable TV". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 27 September 2007. Archived from the original on 9 November 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  8. Natasa Ďurovičová, World cinemas, transnational perspectives, Taylor & Francis, 2010, ISBN 978-0-415-97653-4, ... hearing the hit theme song "Awaara Hoon" ("I am wayward") hummed on the streets of Nanjing. Then, traveling through a small town in a more remote part of China, Seth has to perform the song on request at a local gathering: 'No sooner have I begun than I find that the musicians have struck up the accompaniment behind me: they know the tune better than I do ...
  9. "Awards for Awaara (1951)". Internet Movie Database. Archived from the original on 11 January 2009. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
  10. "异域音乐风 ——印度音乐(三至六)". China Central Television. 4 July 2007. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  11. "You Asked It - Padmaavat Is Bigger Than Mughal E Azam?". Box Office India. 8 March 2018.
  12. "100 Greatest Bollywood Soundtracks Ever – Part 4". Planet Bollywood. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  13. "Music Hits 1950-1959". Box Office India. 5 February 2010.
  14. Kabir, NM (ed). (2010). "The Road to Awaara" in The Dialogue of Awaara. pp. vi–xxiii. New Delhi: Niyogi Books.
  15. Chakravarty, Riya (3 May 2013). "Indian cinema@100: 40 Firsts in Indian cinema". NDTV. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  16. "Why I Produced Boot Polish". The Indian Express. 2 April 1954. p. 3.
  17. "Festival de Cannes: Awaarae". Archived from the original on 22 August 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  18. "Best of Bollywood..." Time. 27 October 2003. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  19. Micahernst (23 January 2012). "Great Performances: Raj Kapoor, Awaara". All-TIME 100 Movies. Time. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  20. Rachna Kanwar (3 October 2005). "25 Must See Bollywood Movies". India Times. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2008.
  21. Corliss, Richard (17 May 2012). "Awaara". Time Inc. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  22. "Raj Kapoor's Awaara in Time's 100 greatest films list". The Hindustan Times. HT Media Limited. 28 May 2012. Archived from the original on 31 May 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  23. "Raj Kapoor's 'Awaara' in Time's 100 greatest films". Times of India. 28 May 2012. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  24. "Box Office 1951". Box Office India. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  25. "Pacific Exchange Rate Service" (PDF). UBC Sauder School of Business. University of British Columbia. p. 3. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  26. "67.175856 INR per USD in 2016". Archived from the original on 13 July 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  27. Mittal, Ashok (1995). Cinema Industry in India: Pricing and Taxation. Indus Publishing. pp. 71 & 77. ISBN 9788173870231.
  28. Rajagopalan, Sudha (2005). Indian Films in Soviet Cinemas: The Culture of Movie-going After Stalin. Indiana University Press. p. 86. ISBN 9780253220998. The purchase of Shree 420 (Mr 420/Gospodin 420) followed a letter from a Soveksportfil'm representative in Bombay to officials in Moscow in which the former wrote: We are in a delicate situation with Raj Kapoor. He feels he is not being offered enough for Mr 420 despite the fact that 'The Vagabond' raised 29 million roubles for the Soviet state.
  29. "Archive". Central Bank of Russia. Retrieved 29 December 2009.
  30. Moscow Prime Time: How the Soviet Union Built the Media Empire that Lost the Cultural Cold War, page 48, Cornell University Press, 2011
  31. "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average)". World Bank. 1965. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  32. "《流浪者》《大篷车》中国内地票房". Sina Corp. 9 February 2019. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  33. "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average)". World Bank. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  34. Link, Perry (2000). The Uses of Literature: Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System. Princeton University Press. p. 204. ISBN 9780691001982.
  37. Bollywood affair: how Indian cinema arrived in the USSR, The Calvert Journal, Calvert 22 Foundation, August 2015
  38. Rajagopalan, Sudha (2008). Indian Films in Soviet Cinemas : the culture of movie-going after Stalin. Indiana University Press. p. 15. ISBN 0253220998.
  39. Sergey Kudryavtsev. "Зарубежные фильмы в советском кинопрокате".
  40. Natalia Fedotova, All time favourite Hindi movies in Russia, Russia Beyond the Headlines, 4 January 2017
  41. Sergey Kudryavtsev. "Отечественные фильмы в советском кинопрокате".
  42. Bollywood returns to Russian screens, Russia Beyond the Headlines, September 2009
  43. "中方参投《神秘巨星》票房破亿,印度电影成下一个淘金地?". Huxiu. 21 January 2018.
  44. Durovicová, Natasa (2008). World cinemas, transnational perspectives (1st ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. p. 51. ISBN 0-415-97654-5. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  45. "Avare (1964)". IMDB. Retrieved 16 January 2012.


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